Secretary- IT, Government of Manipur
“Employment Exchange, Finance Department, e-Procurement, Land Records, Geographical Information System (GIS) for administrative planning will be given priority in the future”
Across the country, Common Service Centres (CSCs) are becoming a necessity. Kindly give us an update on the implementation of CSCs in Manipur? How many CSCs are operational?
A total of 399 Common Service Centres (CSCs) are to be set up in Manipur at the rate of one CSC for every 6 villages. Out of this 360 will be new CSCs and 39 will be Community Information Centres converted into CSCs. The Service Centre Agency (SCA) for implementing CSC project in Manipur (in a Public Private Partnership (PPP)) model is Zoom Developers Ltd. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on August 28, 2008. We had expected that 80 CSCs will be operational by end of November 2008. However, the actual roll-out of CSCs is taking a little longer, but we hope that the delay will be made up once the arrangements are streamlined.
The DIT, Government of India, has released funds for State Data Centres in 27 States and UTs including Manipur. How do you plan to utilize these funds?
The State Data Centres (SDC) funds will be utilised as per the guidelines of the project. As we could not get room space in the existing infrastructure, a new floor is under construction in the Secretariat, for which the work is in progress. With the identified floor space, the consultant for the project – Wipro Ltd. is preparing the Request for Proposal (RFP) for SDC, which will be issued in January 2009.
What is the status of implementation of Manipur State Wide Area Network (MSWAN)?
Manipur has decided to deploy National Informatics Centre (NIC) for the SWAN project. However, choosing NIC has some disadvantages as there is no consultant manpower who will be available to tackle the ground work for survey and identification of the SWAN Point of Purchase (PoPs), pursue and coordinate with the District Administration and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, make site preparation plans and cost estimates, work out costs for bandwidth. The District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) have finally been persuaded to take up the site preparation works. The NIC had informed that they would like to place orders for SWAN equipment only when at least about 10 sites are ready, to avoid delay in installation after delivery. The BSNL which is the bandwidth provider has completed work on 7 OFC lines and work is in progress. Overall, the SWAN implementation in Manipur has lagged behind. However, the State Government and NIC are making renewed efforts to push the project forward.
State Data Centre is an important arm of e-Governance. What are your states initiative in this regard?
The state government will set up the State Data Centre (SDC) which will comply with the international standards. All data banks of the state will be hosted in the SDC for maximum efficiency and security of data storage and transactions.
Are there any initiatives taken by your department in regards to capacity building? Is the IT literacy among the State officials in Manipur impressive?
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy of the state officials is good as they have been exposed to computer usage for several years now. Also the learning speed is quite impressive. This may be due to the fact that all government correspondence is in English only. Apart from this, the NIC conducts IT related courses regularly. This department is also sponsoring various ICT courses such as ICT security through DOEACC Centre at Imphal. A new computer centre is coming up at the State Academy of Training. All new trainees of accounts training from government departments are given compulsory computer literacy training.
Public Private Partnership (PPP) is gaining popularity among many states in India for e-Governance initiative. Are you also looking at the PPP model for increasing the reach of e-Governance in your State?
The Common Service Centre project is being rolled out on a PPP model in Manipur. The issue of smart cards for driving licence by the Transport Department of Manipur, has also been done on a PPP model. We are looking at PPP as a very effective model, and we plan to extend it to e-Procurement as well.
We are aware that the North East as a region is lagging behind in the e-Governance road-map of India. Do you see any possibility of leap-frogging in the near future? What in you opinion should be the government initiatives in this regard?
The Government of India is taking many initiatives to bring the remote areas into the mainstream. The difficult topography, poor road connectivity and absence of power supply are tremendous constraints in the implementation of IT projects reaching out to remote areas. The most significant initiative at present, are the towers (40 metre height) set up by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) which are to be used by multiple Service Providers. There is a need to extend the Optical Fibre Communication (OFC) over power lines down to the 33KV level on the state government power grids with assistance from Government of India.
The operation may be on a PPP model, with the State Electricity Boards also getting revenue for use of their power grid tower infrastructure. The use of WiMAX and other new technologies to reach the remote locations is also given top priority.
What are the major e-Governance projects in the pipeline for the year 2009?
For 2009, the major activities will be the implementation of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) projects for infrastructure, viz-a-viz State Data Centre, State Wide Area Network, Common Service Centres and Capacity Building. In the terms of application projects, Employment Exchange, Finance Department, e-Procurement, Land Records, Geographical Information System (GIS) for administrative planning will be given priority in the future.